This article examines the variables associated with decorating activewear and apparel.
By Ryan Moor
A little bit of history: Nike made its first swoosh shirt in 1971, but it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that what we now know as performance apparel appeared. To this point in time, sportswear was mainly embroidered (Figure 2) or printed with thick plastisol inks. The apparel was constructed of cotton or poly and did not lend itself to a comfortable feel during exercise, especially when factoring in perspiration.
Performance apparel is now one of the fastest growing markets in the apparel industry and is currently estimated at $ 6.4 billion, which is up 19.4% over the last four years, and is expected to grow a further 18.75% to $7.6 billion by 2014. Performance apparel is expected to outperform all sportswear by a factor of two, raising the value of performance sportswear from $5.89 billion to $7.2 billion. Its share of total active sportswear will rise from 10.71% to 11.86% (source: Textile Exchange’s Global Market Trends for Performance Apparel).
Performance apparel defined
Performance apparel consists of two segments: sportswear and protective clothing. Performance apparel combines technology, fashion, comfort, and style to create attractive clothing that performs under pressure. Consumers include everyone from construction and the military to professional sports and the casual athletic enthusiasts.
Performance apparel comes in two types of fits: compression and loose. Compression hugs the muscles and skin, while loose is more of a comfortable fit. The construction is mainly polyester microfiber with a blend of spandex to give it stretch while retaining moisture-wicking attributes. The construction of performance apparel makes it more difficult to decorate than standard cotton due to polyester dye migration and the elasticity of the garment.
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